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8 Akron, Ohio, police officers placed on leave following killing of Black motorist

NBC News logo NBC News 7/1/2022 David K. Li and Mohammed Syed and Marin Scott
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Eight Ohio officers were placed on paid administrative leave and Akron city officials braced for protests after police fatally shot a Black motorist, official said Friday.

Snow plows and other large trucks, meant to be street barriers, were moved downtown overnight in preparation for large demonstrations following the police killing of 25-year-old Jayland Walker.

"We are planning for a possible gathering for demonstrations and ensuring continuity of services are provided to the entire community, including areas in and around downtown," Akron police Lt. Michael Miller, a department spokesperson, told NBC News in a statement on Friday.

"We are utilizing various tools and such in the event barricades are needed."

The deadly encounter has also prompted Akron to cancel a Fourth of July festival, as Mayor Dan Horrigan said now "is not the time for a city-led celebration."

A traffic violation, a chase and gunfire

The deadly encounter unfolded early Monday morning after officers tried pulling over Walker on an unspecified traffic violation, officials said.

Officers were forced to chase him after he wouldn't stop, according to an Akron Police Department statement. During that pursuit, they "reported a firearm being discharged from the suspect vehicle," police said.

After the suspect jumped out of his moving car, officers continued their chase on foot, according to the statement.

"Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them," police said. "In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect."

Walker was pronounced dead on the scene.

“Per departmental procedure, the officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave,” city spokesperson Stephanie Marsh said in statement to NBC News.

The eight police officers were not identified and their union representatives could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

'A dark day for our city'

Walker's loved ones have questioned whether deadly force was necessary.

“Why? Why did this happen in such a manner, such a terrible, terrible way,” his mother, Pamela, told NBC affiliate WKYC of Cleveland, which reported a protest was held in Akron on Thursday.

City Hall and the police department vowed, in a joint statement on Wednesday, to release body-camera footage and said "that there can be no trust without transparency."

And on Friday, the city announced it'll make that footage available shortly after a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation will lead the probe of police use of force, authorities said.

“We know that no police officer ever wants to discharge their service weapon in the line of duty," according to the joint statement. "And anytime they must, it’s a dark day for our city, for the families of those involved, as well as for the officers. Tragically, we are once again faced with a young man, with his life before him, gone too soon. Every single life is precious, and the loss of any life is absolutely devastating to our entire community."

WKYC, citing autopsy photos and interviews with police sources, reported that Walker was hit dozens of times.

NBC News has not obtained a copy of the autopsy. Representatives of the Summit County Medical Examiner could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

Miller, the Akron police spokesperson, declined to discuss details of the deadly confrontation, including how many shots were fired.

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